Footfall in May was 0.2% down on a year ago but out-of-town footfall was up due to big ticket purchases, according to data.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall and Vacancy Monitor reported a decline on the 0.1% fall recorded in April and below the three-month average, up 0.6%.

Footfall on the high street fell 0.9% on the same month last year but an improvement on April’s 1.4% drop. Shopping centres recorded footfall down 1.5% against last year. However, out-of-town posted a 3.3% increase year-on-year.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “This is the second successive month that footfall has eased back a touch, compared to the same period last year. However actual retail sales over the period have risen, which points to the continuing impact and popularity of online shopping particularly in non-food categories.

“As we saw with our retail sales data released earlier this month, purchases of bigger ticket items for revamping the home and garden performed well off the back of the continued pick up in the housing market, as did sales of televisions ahead of this summer’s sporting spectacles, primarily the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Out of town shopping locations have continued to do well as a result, recording a further strong uptick in footfall.”

Retail sales in May increased 0.5% year-on-year.

Four regions in England reported footfall above the UK average – the South East up 1.3%, South West up 0.9%, the East up 3.5% and North and Yorkshire up 0.9%. By contrast, Greater London was down 1.6%, the West Midlands was down 2.3%, and the East Midlands was down 3.0%

Northern Ireland experienced the greatest rise in footfall, up 9.2% and Scotland posted an increase of 0.6%. Wales reported a footfall decline of 2.6%.

Springboard retail insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The drop is a consequence of high streets and shopping centres losing out to retail parks which are benefiting from the inevitable lure of home products as house prices continue to rise. Indeed, retail parks have recorded increases in footfall in every month this year, which is levelling out at around 3% from last year.

‘’Alongside increases in footfall in retail parks in every month this year, footfall has dropped in high streets and shopping centres in four of the five months since January.’’